An Interview To Get To Know NT’s First Ever Female Principal

Welcome back to a new year of school at NT where lots of changes are taking place. Alongside the new schedules and the transition back to in-person classes, the NT community also has a new individual to give a delightful welcome to. Let NT warmly welcome Dr. Jane Lee, the first-ever female principal in the history of North Toronto C.I. With Mr. Mack retiring, Dr. Lee is stepping into the role and responsibilities of being NT’s principal. Previously Vice Principal of A.Y. Jackson Secondary School in the North York district, Dr. Lee now joins the NT community with warm regards.

During an interview conducted over the summer, we were able to gain deeper insight into Dr. Lee’s thoughts, ideas, and wonderful goals for NT as our new principal. But first, let us get to know her a little better on both the personal and professional levels. 

As a former TDSB student at Earl Haig Secondary School’s gifted program, Dr. Lee immersed herself in music throughout her high school journey, playing the piano and tenor saxophone in numerous school bands. In addition, her extracurricular involvement extended to activities such as girls softball, which she even continued well after high school, as well as participation in the chess team and social committee. She pursued her post-secondary studies at the University of Toronto. After receiving her teaching certificate, she began her teaching career in the math department at Earl Haig S.S. Following her 14 years with the math department, with the last 7 years as a TDSB Mathematics Curriculum Leader, Dr. Lee became the Vice Principal of Highland Junior High School. It was later that she assumed the role of Vice Principal at A.Y. Jackson Secondary School.

As the new principal of NT, Dr. Lee wishes to truly become a part of the NT community and to delve deep into the school’s history. Aside from that, Dr. Lee also strongly believes it is a priority to ensure that “NT continues to be an inclusive learning environment that recognizes diversity and supports student success in all its forms.” 

“I am very excited to know that I’m the first cisgender female to be principal of NT, and am proud to be a woman in a leadership position,” Dr. Lee expressed. She hopes to inspire female students, emphasizing the importance of “students being able to see and identify themselves with people in leadership roles.” As a Korean-Canadian female educator, Dr. Lee actively recognizes that “there is still much work to be done on anti-racism – specifically anti-Indigenous, anti-Black, and anti-Asian racism” in addition to issues concerning Islamophobia, accessibility, and LGBTQ+ individuals. She aims to dismantle hate and discrimination by first acknowledging “Canada’s shameful dark past along with unfortunate present issues.” Dr. Lee stated that “we must stand united to address and abolish all types of these harmful, hateful, commentaries and actions.” During her time here at NT, she promises to recognize, accept, and celebrate diversity in all of its forms. 

Still amidst a pandemic, Dr. Lee voiced some concerns and challenges she believes the school community will face during this school year. “Safety is always at the forefront,” Dr. Lee stated, especially for this school year. She explained that there is still plenty of uncertainty because of the COVID-19 cases, which is why NT must work together to take part in keeping students, staff, and all NT community members safe. “We need to comply with Toronto Public Health and their directions because we always need to be vigilant about keeping everyone safe. […] It’s the conditions [of] when we return that I’m most concerned about since it will determine how the school functions,” she elaborated. In addition to physical health, Dr. Lee also mentioned her worries regarding the mental wellness of NT students, staff, and families. She expressed her “focus on helping everyone adjust to the modified semester system,” particularly in these challenging times where “we all need to work together and support one another.” 

After giving a brief overview of some student-organized events to Dr. Lee, NT’s new principal was already looking forward to seeing all of the events in this school year. In particular, Dr. Lee is excited for the marching band’s performance at the Santa Claus parades, the fundraising events during Charity Week, the music performances at Maytime Melodies, and the school spirit on Red & Grey Day. “Anything student-centered, I am a huge fan of,” she declared. Dr. Lee awaits all of NT’s lively traditions and hopes to experience everything to the fullest. 

“It’s meeting the people that matters,” Dr. Lee articulated, “I highly value relationships and I look forward to developing deep and meaningful ties to all the stakeholders that collectively embody NT.” She also expressed her eagerness to become familiar with NT’s high level of academic programming, in conjunction with the school’s extracurricular programming, featured through our vast array of teams, clubs, and councils. She hopes that “NT will be able to return to its regular programming in a safe manner, starting this September.” 

With her strong sense of community, her commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and her amiable personality, we are confident that NT will be in good hands with Dr. Lee. If you happen to see our new principal strolling through the halls of NT, make sure to say ‘hi’ and give her a warm welcome! We wish all NT students a smooth and successful 2021-22 school year!

—Audrey Gong and Victoria Man
This article has been reprinted with permission from the September 9, 2021 issue of Graffiti.

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